Legal Q&A: How can my daughter recover more of her deposit from a landlord?

My daughter and her housemates have recently vacated their student rental but the landlord wants to deduct an excessive amount from their deposits for repairs and cleaning. What can they do?
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Question: Having graduated, my daughter and her three housemates recently vacated their shared place at the end of their tenancy. They each paid £800 as deposits at the beginning but their landlord now wants to deduct £2,900 from them for repairs and cleaning, which they think is excessive. How can they recover more of their deposits from the landlord?
Answer: Since April 6, 2007, where there is an Assured Shorthold Tenancy, it has been a requirement for a landlord to put the tenant’s deposit into a Government-backed Tenancy Deposit Protection Scheme.
The deposit is the property of the tenant and should be returned to them at the end of the tenancy, provided they have not breached the terms of the tenancy agreement.
As your daughter and her housemates do not agree the amount the landlord is proposing to deduct, they can raise their dispute with the relevant Tenancy Deposit Protection Scheme. The undisputed sum of £300, from the total £3,200 deposit, should be returned immediately.
The deposit protection scheme will use an adjudicator, whose decision is binding, to decide about the disputed deposit and whether it should be returned to the tenants. As the deposit is the tenants’ money, it is up to the landlord to justify the claim for the £2,900.
Your daughter and her housemates should gather evidence to show the landlord cannot substantiate the claim, such as photos of the property at the beginning and end of the tenancy.

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If you have a question for Fiona McNulty, please email or write to Legal Solutions, Homes & Property, London Evening Standard, 2 Derry Street, W8 5EE. We regret that questions cannot be answered individually but we will try to feature them here. Fiona is legal director in the real estate group of Foot Anstey LLP in Exeter (
These answers can only be a very brief commentary on the issues raised and should not be relied on as legal advice. No liability is accepted for such reliance. If you have similar issues, you should obtain advice from a solicitor.

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